Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee issued an executive order today that closes non-essential businesses statewide and urges residents to stay home. 

"This is not a mandate for people to shelter in place mandate," Lee explained Monday afternoon following announcement of the order. 

"This is an urging to citizens not to utilize nonessential businesses. The way it will change behaviors is by closing nonessential businesses."

The order takes effect 11:29 p.m. March 31 through 11:59 p.m. April 14.

The "safer at home” order calls on Tennesseans to stay home unless they are taking part in an "essential" activity or service. Businesses that do not meet the definition of "essential" are to be closed for access or use by the public, though the order does encourage alternative business models, such as delivery or online purchases. 

Even when individuals are taking part in essential businesses or services, the order encourages thoughtful planning to minimize the need to leave their residence and to follow health guidelines at all times: maintain distance with other people, practice good hygiene, cover coughs and stay home if you do not feel well.

Employers are not to require or allow employees with COVID-19 to continue to work until that employee has satisfied the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for ending home isolation.

Essential Activities:

-Health and safety: seeking emergency services, obtaining medical supplies or assistance, obtaining medication, obtaining non-elective medical care or treatment, visiting a health care professional

-Necessary services and supplies: groceries and food; household products; supplies required to work from home; automobile supplies; and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and operation of residences

-Providing, facilitating or receiving delivery or curbside carry-out delivery 

-Outdoor activities: driving or riding in a vehicle, walking, hiking, running, biking, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, golf, tennis, or other recreational activities that can be performed while following health guidelines

-Caring for or visiting family member, friend or pet in another household

-Visiting a place of worship or attending a wedding or funeral, though the order encourages delaying celebrations or restricting participation in weddings and funerals to close family

-Essential travel related to essential activities or otherwise permitted; caring for others; traveling to and from educational institutions for distance learning, receiving meals or related services; to and from outside the state; or travel required by law, law enforcement or court order, including transporting children pursuant to a custody agreement

Critical infrastructure is to remain open and operation, including government entities and businesses that provide essential services. 

Essential Services:

-Critical infrastructure workers

-Health care and public health operations

-Human services operations

-Essential infrastructure operations

-Essential government functions

-Food and medicine stores

-Food and beverage production and agriculture

-Charitable and social service organizations

-Religious and ceremonial functions


-Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation

-Financial institutions and insurance entities

-Hardware and supply stores

-Critical trades

-Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery and pick-up services

-Educational institutions

-Laundry services

-Restaurants for off-premises consumption

-Supplies to work from home

-Supplies for essential business and operations


-Home-based care and services

-Residential facilities and shelters

-Professional services

-Manufacturing, distribution and supply chain for critical products and industries

-Hotels and motels

-Funeral services